To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When it is dark enough, only then can you see the stars.” Did you know that stars were used to guide lost travellers in the right direction? Ofcourse you did, that is a universally known fact. Did you know that the sun is also a star? Of course you did, we all learnt this way back in the first standard. However, would you believe it if you were told that there are stars in the Universe which have mass of around 265 times and luminosity of around 8,70,000 times of the sun? Yes, this is also very true. Stars have often been a subject of fascination for scientists, for varying reasons. Be it their uncountability, or their distances from various other solar objects, or their interesting physical properties.
Here’s a list of the top 10 astronomically extreme kinds of stars.
- 10. The Nearest Star: The Sun
- 9. The Oldest Star: The Methuselah Star
- 8. The Least Luminous Star: The red dwarf star 2MASS J0523-1403.
- 7. The Brightest Star: The Sirius
- 6. The Most Massive Star: The R136a1 star
- 5. The star with the most luminous explosion: Supernova or Hypernova
- 4. The nearest multiple star system: Alpha Centauri
- 3. The star with the highest proper motion: Barnard’s Star
- 2. The most variable star: CV stars
- 1. The most unusual star: Przybylski’s star
10. The Nearest Star: The Sun
This one’s surely a no-brainer, as you might have already guessed. The nearest star to our home planet, our very own local star, the Sun! It is spherical to almost an exact measurement, and it’s diameter is 260 times of the earth. The source of it’s energy is nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei with helium, which give it the luminosity and heat. Did you also know that the sun orbits the centre of the Milky Way galaxy clockwise? It takes around 225-250 million years to complete one rotation.
9. The Oldest Star: The Methuselah Star
Stars have their family hierarchies too, you see! The granddad of all stars is said to have been formed right after the Big Bang explosion took place, around 14 billion years ago. This title goes to the star named HD 140283, unofficially named as the Methuselah star. This star is a part of the Libra constellation, and is atleast 190 years away from the Earth. This star is extremely significant from the point of view of studying the origins of the universe, as it is the only existing star from among it’s contemporaries. These kinds of red dwarf stars can exist for trillions of years at a stretch.
8. The Least Luminous Star: The red dwarf star 2MASS J0523-1403.
Discovered as recently as 2013, this red star is also a winner in the category of being one of the coolest stars. We must also know that the dimmest stars are judged not on the basis of how dim they look from the Earth’s atmosphere, but how many light particles or photons they emit. Hence, distance is not a determining factor in case of this category. Other categories of stars such as the white stars, brown stars and black holes do not really hold applicable for this category.
7. The Brightest Star: The Sirius
Roughly means “glowing” in Greek, it is outshined only by several planets in the galaxy and the International Space Station. Other names for this star include the Alpha Canis Major or the dog star. Sirius appears the most luminous because of two reasons, firstly due to it’s intrinsic luminosity and and proximity to the Earth. What’s more, it will continue to be the brightest star for the Earth’s sky for the next 2,10,000 years. It will also increase in size and therefore will increase in brightness, and then gradually recede.
6. The Most Massive Star: The R136a1 star
The current record for the most massive star is held by the Wolf-Rayet star named as R136a1. It’s cluster is known as Tarantula Nebula. It has a mass of around 265 times of the sun, and a luminosity of atleast 9 million times. It is sometimes strangely baffling, even to scientists and researchers, how such a humongous solar object can even exist. However, it is important to know that the stage of evolution of the star has a significant position in determining it’s size.
5. The star with the most luminous explosion: Supernova or Hypernova
This star has actually not been discovered, but all we know is that it’s existence has been confirmed. Generically termed as Supernova or Hypernova, these explosions last for around several weeks or months. They emit Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB’s), which are the highest energy photon rays in the universe. They are emitted at times of nuclear bombings. Many more such rays have been discovered in recent times, from sources other than the Earth. This is becoming a matter of great interest for scientists and researchers.
4. The nearest multiple star system: Alpha Centauri
Discovered in the year 1839, the Alpha Centauri was one of the first three stars to have it’s distance measured from the Earth. It is also the third brightest star. The Alpha Centauri comprises of three stars, informally known as A, B and C. It is also said that there could be major exo-planets orbiting the Alpha Centauri, given rise to a possibility of the existence of an entire solar system.
3. The star with the highest proper motion: Barnard’s Star
Also the fourth closest star to the Earth, this star is named after the astronomer E.E Barnard. It is has received a lot of attention from scientists, due to it’s location near the celestial equator. It is relatively older than the sun, which might make it the oldest star in the Milky Way galaxy. This star has also been subject to many controversies. Quite the celebrity, eh?
2. The most variable star: CV stars
Contrary to your thinking, these are not the starry achievements you list on your Curriculum Vitae’s. The CV stars, or the Cataclysmic Variable stars are those which vary greatly in brightness and appearance. They are abundantly found everywhere in the Universe, and there would be atleast around 45,000 of them in the Milky Way Galaxy itself. The reason for their fluctuation is that they are actually binary stars, comprising of one regular and one dwarf star.
1. The most unusual star: Przybylski’s star
This star has more things unusual than just it’s name. Firstly, it’s starlight is like that of any other star. Astronomers are pretty much clueless as to it’s actual composition, and they are still trying to find out the same. It has a peculiar spectrum, which would not fit into the standard description for stellar classification. The Polish-Austrain astronomer who has lent his name to this star, observed unsually high amounts of unusual elements in this star. It also has a highly peculiar velocity as compared to it’s neighbouring stars.